The victory at home to Watford came from a methodical display (a little boring if we’re being honest); the Arsenal home win came after a resolute performance under first half pressure from the visitors, followed by a highly-spirited & excellent execution from City after the interval.
The 3 points at Hull City followed, once again, a very disciplined showing from Pep’s men and with lots of the now-usual possession, which eventually ground-down our hosts.
In short, that’s 3 back-to-back wins to perhaps paper over some recent cracks; fissures caused by all-too-frequent defensive errors / lapses, together with a few injuries and 2 key-player suspensions.
The timing of Sergio’s return, therefore, from a 4-match ban is perfect ahead of, also, the imminent arrival of Gabriel Jesus.
It’s good to be back and able to find both the energy & time to sit in front of the keyboard and I’m really looking forward to a very good game against Liverpool.
Predicted line-up, subs and outcome.
Fluid 4-5-1 come 4-1-4-1 come 4-3-3 come 4-2-4…
___________(Outfield player with gloves on)_________
The ‘Yellow Peril’ somewhere near the back.
I’ve got a feeling Pep will go for Aleks on the left of defence for this game (he’ll need to be ‘right on his toes for this one’) with Zaba on the opposite side. In between those I’m going for Nicholas & Bacary. Let’s hope it’s a case of you score 2 and we’ll score 3…
Fernandinho to provide a little extra security to that back-line (good hunting fella!) and ahead of him in the middle of the park is likely to be Yaya & David. Flanking those on the wings is Kevin and ‘sure-to-be-in-for-some-stick’ Raheem.
Up front – Serg is back! Hopefully fully primed and ready to tear our host’s defence to shreds!
Willy the back-up keeper; Gael & Tosin the defensive change-options. Fernando the only central midfielder on the bench; Jesus (Mark I), Nolito & Kelechi the attacking replacement choices from the ‘7 on the side’.
Notable absences: Vincent Kompany (injured – possibly close to another return), John Stones (late test / I’m guessing that he won’t be risked), Fabian Delph (injured and still no return date), Ilkay Gundogan (injured for the rest of the season) & Leroy Sane (injured – length of time out unknow at this stage).
Do I agree with Pep’s (predicted) line-up?
I think this game will be one of attacking pace and thrust-aplenty; especially from the home side and especially in the first 30 minutes or so. Therefore, I just wonder, in this a match-up, whether it might be a little too much for the legs & frame of Yaya in the early stages.
If so, perhaps-then squeeze Kevin, David & Raheem together a little more-narrow and into an ‘attacking trio’ behind Sergio and partner Fernando with Fernandinho behind those 3, for the first part at least, which might prove wiser – defending the back line even more and also then-having our own counter-attacking threat in a 4-2-3-1 / 4-2-4?
The defence – especially the “keeper” and left-side-of – is a worry for me but there’s little we can do about that for now, other than what I’ve suggested about protection from midfield. Other than that, I’m fine with that predicted line-up overall and we certainly have ‘enough in our locker’ to hurt a defence that, in the league at least, have conceded one more than us (7th best defence in a league of 20 to our joint-6th).
Result? This fixture has a fairly high-scoring draw written all over it – a 2-2 or 3-3 wouldn’t be a surprise at all and I think we’d have to be happy with that (10 points from the last possible 12).
Expected weather conditions during the game: Slight South-Westerly breeze and overcast skies keeps the temperature up to an unseasonably mild 9C throughout the game. Dry, with forecasted heavy rain not set to move in until around the time the clocks chime to bring in 2017.
News this week that both Pablo Maffeo and Angelino have gone on loan for the rest of the season to Spanish 2nd division side, Girona FC.
Angelino, fair enough for now; I don’t see him ever dislodging either Gael Clichy nor Aleksandar Kolarov on the left of defence this season.
However, with some senior team experience under his belt already and with Pablo Zabaleta & Bacary Sagna’s recent injury niggles; I think at just half way through the season it’s a mistake to let Pablo Maffeo leave on loan.
Hope that doesn’t come back to bite us…
HAVE A GOOD NEW YEAR ALL!
Thanks, as always, for ‘tuning in’!